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Vietnam’s ‘last paradise’ intends to challenge Phuket and Bali

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Vingroup carves a modern-day Venice into the island of Phu Quoc

TOMOYA ONISHI, Nikkei staff writerJune 6, 2021 12:00 JST

HANOI — Developers on Phu Quoc — an idyllic island in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Cambodia and known as “the last paradise of Vietnam” — have designs on developing the jewel into a major tourist resort.

Expectations are growing that the island, long a leading producer of nuoc mam fish sauce, will attract large numbers of tourists. But first it will have to overcome various obstacles, some that are being erected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the steep climb ahead, Le Khac Hiep, vice chairman of Vingroup, Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate, in April said the island is on its way to becoming a prominent regional resort destination. He was speaking at the christening of Grand World, a “sleepless city” offering a variety of pleasures day and night, 365 days a year.

Within the park, more than 1,000 restaurants, various boutiques and shophouses line each side of a canal. A water show is held every night.

Grand World is full of “extraordinary spaces that make me feel as if I were not in my country,” an excited tourist from Hanoi said.

Things began to change for the sleepy island famous for fish sauce in 2013, when the Vietnamese government of then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung designated the island as a special economic zone.

Vingroup has since invested $2.8 billion in the island. A theme park, casino and golf course are already operating, and the number of hotel rooms has reached 12,000.

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